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.Authors generally classified as modernist have often very differentstyles; from the novels of Joseph Conrad (1857 1924) and D.H.Lawrence(1885 1930) to the more experimental prose of Virginia Woolf (1882 1941)and Dorothy Richardson (1873 1957); the poetry of T.S.Eliot (1888 1965)and Ezra Pound (1885 1972), or the drama of Bertolt Brecht (1898 1956).What all these writers share is a fascination with literary experiment,with making a  new literature that was deliberately unlike the  realistart of Victorian culture.Modernist literature is often startling and chal-lenging; it may, for example, be written in a fractured or peculiar style,MODERNI SM AND UTOPI A 99 100 KEY I DEASor it may advocate the overturning of traditional values.David Forgacs iden-tifies in modernism the following features:  first, it is, or was, about novelty; itwas a set of artistic practices which shared a commitment to  make it newin Pound s phrase.many modernist artists envisaged political change interms of a radical and often violent break.it has been argued that modern-ism was an art of  depth not of  surfaces  (Forgacs 1995: 9 10).One of thethings that is significant for Jameson s purposes is that the most famous modernist works were being produced during the 1930s, at a time whenAdolf Hitler was coming to power in Germany, and Benito Mussolini in Italy a time, in other words, when fascist political systems were in the ascendant.Jameson is interested in the interconnections between this political historyand the artistic practices of modernists themselves.Jameson s subtitle to the Fables of Aggression book in a sense gives thegame away: Wyndham Lewis, the modernist as Fascist.Lewis (18821957) is perhaps an unlikely figure for a committed Marxist like Jamesonto want to spend a whole book discussing.An avant-garde experimentalwriter of tremendous power and inventiveness, whose novels  inparticular Tarr (1918) and The Apes of God (1930)  have won him manyadmirers, he was nonetheless a deeply unpleasant man.He attacked hiscontemporaries, and much of the age in general, with a searing satiricalvituperation, and believed that the solution to what he saw as thedegeneracy of the times was to be found in fascism.His admiration forHitler, and even more for Mussolini, was heartfelt and deeply unpleasant.He was also a thoroughgoing misogynist, whose sexism and hatred ofwomen manifests itself frequently in his writings.Clearly, this explicit fascism and sexism constitutes a position withwhich a Marxist like Jameson will have little or no sympathy, and itwould be possible  or even easy  merely to dismiss Lewis as a fascistand leave it at that (John Carey does this in his study of modernism, TheIntellectuals and the Masses).But Jameson s response is not so crude.Hefinds the fascism and the sexism unpalatable, but he also recognises thefierce beauty of much of Lewis s writing.It is not that the  good featuresof Lewis s work can be separated out from the  bad  very specifically,according to Jameson, they cannot.It is that precisely the  bad elements(I put these terms in inverted commas because Jameson repeatedlyexpresses disdain for the  good guys and bad guys simplicity of suchjudgmental criticism) function as manifestations of latent issues that arecentral to  modernism.In some ways Lewis is a typical modernist, in others he is atypical: he shares, for instance, the emphasis on stylistic andformal experimentalism with James Joyce, but he does not share Joyce s monadism , his treatment of characters as if they possessedpsychological individuality, something after the manner of nineteenth-century realists (FA, 14).Jameson argues that it is in the way that Lewisbreaks with modernism, rather than the ways in which he is arepresentative modernist, that are most  positive , most useful.Thevehemence and anger of Lewis s work, of which his beguilement by theviolence of fascism and his hatred of women are two manifestations, iskey.Lewis  expresses the rage and frustration of the fragmented subjectat the chains that implacably bind it to its other and its mirror image (FA:61).In other words it is the ways in which Lewis s novels are aboutrupture, about breaking with conformism, that make them valuable.Here is an example of Lewis s style, from his most famous novel Tarr(1918).The character Kreisler is in his apartment, looking down on Parisin more than one sense.Kreisler was shaving himself, one eye fixed upon Paris.It beat upon this wallof Paris drearily.The late spring sunshine flooded, like a burst tepid star, thepink boulevard: beneath, the black-suited burgesses of Paris crawled likewounded insects hither and thither.Imagining yourself in some primitivenecropolis, the portraits of the deceased covering the holes in which they hadrespectively been thrust, you would, pursuing your fancy, have seen inKreisler a devout recluse who had taken up his quarters in this rock-hewndeath-house.(Lewis 1918: 69)According to Jameson, Lewis s style works as the  registering apparatusfor forces which he means to record, beyond any whitewashing andliberal revisionism, in all their primal ugliness (FA: 21).Othermodernists to one degree or another smoothed over the ugliness of modernist existence, the reification and alienation, the consequencesof the First World War; Lewis did not.The saving grace, as far as Jamesonis concerned, is that this stylistic, formal resistance, this repudiation andrupture, is so powerful that it even disrupts what Lewis presumably didnot mean it to disrupt  his fascist masculinist content.Lewis did not fullyknow what he was doing: he wanted to write novels that put across afascist message.But Jameson s  political unconscious style of readingMODERNI SM AND UTOPI A 101 102 KEY I DEASis able to read against the grain, to find Marxist value in these otherwiseeasy-to-dismiss modernist works.Lewis would have hated it, but that isnot the point.Presumably (he doesn t actually say as much), Jameson chose toproduce a study of Wyndham Lewis because, in part, he represents themost extreme, the most fascistic and unpleasant, of all the modernists.Inother words, he is setting out to show that a properly dialectical criticismcannot be distracted by only the manifest content of literature; it needs toseek out the socially significant latent content too.This must always bebrought back to history ( always historicize! ), so that any criticalreading of modernism that ignored the historical circumstances out ofwhich that literature was produced  in particular the aftermath of theFirst World War and the rise of Fascism and Nazism across Europe  willalways fall short.JAMESON AND MODERNISMJameson s own position on modernism represents  a critique andsynthesis all at once of what he considers to be  the two great rivaltheories of modernism current today (FA: 13).This is, it should be noted,a slightly idiosyncratic perspective on the myriad different angles ofwhat is, today, the much-contested term  modernism [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]